The goat domestication process inferred from large-scale mitochondrial DNA analysis of wild and domestic individuals
The emergence of farming during the Neolithic transition, including the domestication of livestock, was a critical point in the evolution of human kind. The goat (Capra hircus) was one of the first domesticated ungulates. In this study, we compared the genetic diversity of domestic goats to that of the modern representatives of their wild ancestor, the bezoar, by analyzing 473 samples collected over the whole distribution range of the latter species. This partly confirms and significantly clarifies the goat domestication scenario already proposed by archaeological evidence. All of the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups found in current domestic goats have also been found in the bezoar. The geographic distribution of these haplogroups in the wild ancestor allowed the localization of the main domestication centers. We found no haplotype that could have been domesticated in the eastern half of the Iranian Plateau, nor further to the east. A signature of population expansion in bezoars of the C haplogroup suggests an early domestication center on the Central Iranian Plateau (Yazd and Kerman Provinces) and in the Southern Zagros (Fars Province), possibly corresponding to the management of wild flocks. However, the contribution of this center to the current domestic goat population is rather low (1.4%). We also found a second domestication center covering a large area in Eastern Anatolia, and possibly in Northern and Central Zagros. This last domestication center is the likely origin of almost all domestic goats today. This finding is consistent with archaeological data identifying Eastern Anatolia as an important domestication center.